Grounded4Life 1: Ark Of Descent

[Contains sacred bonsai trees and SPOILERS!!!]

Eliza Taylor as ‘Clarke Griffin’ in “The 100” (S1)I wasn’t really aware of CW’s The 100 until I started seeing trailers for its UK airing on E4… but when I was looking for something to watch over dinner one day, and idly opted for a (censored) repeat of the pilot, I was quickly drawn in by the story of one hundred juvenile delinquents banished from a space station orbiting a post-apocalyptic Earth, and used as sacrificial “guinea pigs” to verify how hospitable the surface might be for human habitation. In the crash that followed, their radio equipment was damaged, and they were left to fend for themselves in a hostile environment using the rudimentary “Earth skills” they’d been taught in school, while establishing an encampment, forming uneasy alliances, defending against local “Grounder” tribes, and drafting ad hoc laws as they went along. Meanwhile, there was an equal amount of uncertainty and skulduggery up on The Ark station, as the truth about their failing life-support system leaked out, and conspiring factions jockeyed for control of the remaining “exodus” ship, to leave the others for dead. Eep!

Lindsey Morgan as ‘Raven Reyes’ in “The 100” (S1)Although it was adapted from a pre-existing novel, there’s no doubt that this show also owes a great deal to Lost… besides the whole “strangers crashing in the wilderness and trying to survive” thing, there’s the shadowy “others” lurking in the foliage, a level-head doctor-type reluctantly taking charge of the group while quarrelling with a more roguish cowboy-type, the way several episodes were padded out with boring flashbacks that told us nothing new about the characters, and the presence of Henry Ian Cusick (aka ‘Desmond’). Then, to cap it all off, at the end of the finale there was the twisty reveal of a functioning underground military facility, (presumably) staffed with soldiers, scientists, and medical personnel! It was a great cliff-hanger to end on, with the show’s heroine waking up in a pristine white “quarantine” cell, after all that scrabbling around in the mud… but it also reminded me of how my interest in Lost dropped considerably after Locke climbed down the hatch into Desmond’s bunker, and turned into a button-pushing loser. Boo to that! Since I haven’t read the source novel, I have no idea what will happen in the second season, which premieres on October 22nd… I just hope it doesn’t suck as hard as the second season of its predecessor did.

The show has quite a large ensemble cast of youngsters and adults alike, but as hinted above, I’d identify ‘Clarke Griffin’ (Eliza Taylor) as the show’s main protagonist, since we spend the most time with her, and generally experience events through her eyes. She’s the diplomatic and compassionate daughter of a high-ranking council member on the Ark, and is therefore jeered as a “princess” by many of the other juvies… though she eventually proves her worth as a leader in conjunction with ‘Bellamy Blake’ (Bob Morley), who was first introduced as an anarchic antagonist, but has since matured into a more conservative military commander. One of the most interesting aspects of the first season was seeing how various political and philosophical disputes would play out, and what sort of civilisation the juvies would build for themselves… though that’s been (literally) blown to smithereens now by the events of the finale.

Marie Avgeropoulos as ‘Octavia Blake’ in “The 100” (S1)Since the characters have all been locked into “survival mode” for most of the season, it’s hard to get a sense of who they really are as people, which makes it harder to care about them as characters… added to the fact there are no cultural reference points to distinguish the generically pretty twenty-somethings from one another… so I’m not sure I could really pick out a “favourite” as yet… I mean, Clarke’s certainly an admirable role model and a strong heroine, but she’s also a little humdrum. Bellamy’s unsanctioned sister, ‘Octavia Blake’ (Marie Avgeropoulos), is quite a feisty girl, but she’s also incredibly selfish and kinda dumb (in the finale, she made the classic error of stopping to quip when she should have been looking for cover, and caught an arrow in the back!)… so my MVP would probably have to be ‘Raven Reyes’ (Lindsey Morgan), the badass engineer whose cockiness always lands the right side of obnoxious. She not only managed to re-establish communication with the Ark, but also crafted bullets, bombs, and walkie-talkies for the juvies to use! Admittedly, she did get dragged into a soapy love-triangle with Clarke over the affections of meh-worthy himbo ‘Finn Collins’ (Thomas McDonell), but that seems to have resolved itself for now.

Dichen Lachman as ‘Anya’ in “The 100” (S1)Oh, I also have to give a shout-out to ‘Anya’ (Dichen Lachman), a prominent Grounder “princess”, who’s tried to kill Clarke (and others) on several occasions now. I got quite excited when she was captured by the juvies in the finale, hoping that they’d finally work out a truce, so she could become a regular character… though that’s largely because of how awesome Lachman looked in that wild-woman garb. Sadly, they all got gassed and separated by the “Mountain Men” after that, so I’ve no idea what’s happened to her now…

I found all the grown-ups on The Ark quite irritating, despite all their devious shenanigans and noble sacrifices, and I was far more interested in finding out more about the Grounders, and seeing the Earth-bound plots progress… but now that they’ve crashed the station and taken their first taste of fresh air, I might start to warm up to them a little. That said, I doubt I’ll ever forgive Clarke’s mother (Paige Turco) for snitching on her husband and letting him get “floated” out of an airlock for trying to reveal confidential information about the failing air-support (information that she then chose to reveal to everyone after his execution, dammit!). I really hope she dies next season, but I get the feeling we’re supposed to care about seeing her reunited with her estranged daughter. Feh.

Er, I feel like I’ve been quite negative about the show in this post, but the truth is I enjoyed all of the episodes I’ve seen, and even tried to recommend it to friends… despite the derivativeness mentioned above, the story took some very shocking twists and turns along the way (including the cold-blooded murder of a major character by a little girl looking to overcome her personal “demons”), and there was a surprising amount of blood and guts on display. It isn’t really in the same league as Game of Thrones yet, but it’s definitely playing the same sport… and I think the pace and variety of the action will give it greater replay value than Lost ever had!

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action. He/him.
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